Clippers need to sit Chris Paul for Game 1, think long term

first_imgPaul, who is listed as questionable for Game 1, is as tough as they come. Pound for pound, he’s probably the toughest you’ll find in the NBA.• More Paul: Gutsy performance keeps Clippers alive in playoffsHe’ll plead and argue and promise his hamstring is strong enough to carry him. He’ll point to the MRI he underwent Sunday, which came back as good as can be expected, and say that’s more than enough proof he’s OK to play. He’ll get mad and throw a tantrum and demand he takes the court with the rest of the Clippers.As he should. He’s wired to compete, especially with the stakes so high.He’s never advanced beyond the second round of the playoffs, and you just know he’s itching to reset the narrative painting him as a player incapable of leading his team on a prolonged postseason run. Even if it means driving his body into dangerous territory. But that’s where you, his boss, need to step in and save him from himself.If you have to lock Paul in the locker room at the Houston Toyota Center before Game 1, do it.• Preview: Clippers look to ride momentum vs. rested RocketsIf you have to tie him to the bench, or make Glen “Big Baby” Davis sit on him to keep him from checking into the game, by all means, do it.Just make sure he stays on the sideline, or back in the locker room, getting the treatment he’ll need to help insure he can play the balance of this series rather than just a fraction of it.Game 1 is important.But no one ever advanced to the conference finals leading 1-0. And no one was ever eliminated going down 0-1, either.No matter what happens Monday, nothing gets settled.Think long range, not short.It’s one thing when the Clippers closed their eyes, rolled the dice and prayed Paul’s ailing left hamstring wouldn’t completely rip as they leaned on him in Game 7 against the Spurs.With tomorrow no longer an option, the Clippers had no choice but to ask Paul to forget the biting pain, play through the severe limitations and somehow, some way will himself to hit the biggest shot in franchise history and slay the defending champions to advance to the second round.There were no other options. When it’s win or go home, you do whatever it takes. Even if whatever is putting your best player in harms way.“I don’t think we win that game,” Clippers guard J.J. Redick said of Paul’s influence. “Down the stretch, you see what happens in a lot of games in this series where it comes down to a couple of possessions. We needed CP to have the ball in his hands at the end of the game.”Said Jamal Crawford: “It was unbelievable. We talked — myself, J.J. (Redick), DJ (DeAndre Jordan) and Blake (Griffin) — we talked about how we were here last year when he was out for six weeks. That’s when we leaned on each other. Obviously Chris commands so much attention. So we were just trying to bide our time before he came back in. When he came back, it was magical.”It sure was.Paul got through it. The Clippers survived it. And we all lived to see another day.But it’s time to be thankful, not stupid.So let Paul sit and watch Game 1.Not saying another day or two of rest means he’ll be 100 percent the rest of the series. It’s wishful thinking at this point to assume he’ll be his MVP-candidate self at any point against Houston.He’s hurt. That’s obvious.And utterly unfair, a sentiment expressed all over Paul’s face as he limped to the locker room upon hurting himself.“There was a lot of things going through my head,” Paul said. “You think about all season long, I think about Blake, D.J., a lot of guys on our team, we do everything we can to prepare for a game. You get your rest, you train, you work out, you eat right, try to take care of your body, and I was just overcome with emotion because I was frustrated, because I was like, all this time, all season long, and then Game 7 my body is going to let me down.”Paul came back. Asked his hamstring to go above and beyond. And it obliged.But now it’s time to be smart.Four straight days of round-the-clock rest, treatment and therapy ahead of Wednesday’s Game 2 seems a helluva lot more prudent than 48 hours. If you have to err on the side of caution, so be it.Besides, the Houston Rockets are good. But they aren’t San Antonio Spurs good or smart or experienced.Even without Paul in Game 1, it’s a winnable situation considering the broad shoulders Blake Griffin offered and used to carry the Clippers during the first round.Crawford can be counted on in a spot start. And as good as Dwight Howard is, he’s no Tim Duncan.The Clippers can win one game without Paul.But even if sitting him means taking a loss in Game 1, that’s still better than risking losing him for the remainder of the series by rushing him back.Be prudent, Clippers.You need Paul for the long haul, not just one game.vincent.bonsignore@langnews.com @DailyNewsVinny on Twitter HOUSTON >> Don’t do it, Clippers.Don’t get mind tricked by the pressure of a second-round playoff series and do something you’ll regret.Don’t rush Chris Paul back from the left hamstring injury he suffered in Game 7 of the first round of the playoffs Saturday. Don’t risk further injury by playing him in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals Monday against the Houston Rockets.And whatever you do, don’t let him hoodwink you into believing he’s good to go for Game 1.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img